Speedo Q&A 3: Quiz Rebecca Adlington!

Good morning!

This lunchtime (1-2pm) we're very lucky to be able to welcome Olympic swimming champion Rebecca Adlington onto the forums. She'll be answering your questions about achieving your potential in the pool, her own experience of swimming at the highest level and of course, her journey to next year's London Olympics.

Rebecca is currently riding high as Britain's most famous swimmer. Her success over 400m and 800m at the Beijing Olympics - including smashing Janet Evans's long-standing 800m world record - has made her the most successful female swimmer we've had for decades.

We're opening the discussion now Rebecca so can get answering your questions straight away at 1pm (rather than having to deal with a rush of questions at once). 


[Edited - Sean Kelly's not actually here again, that bit of text got dragged through from last week...]



  • Afternoon Rebecca and Sean,

    how far out do you plan training/racing?  At the 'long' end of the plan are the targets aspirational or you just looking to trim that extra 0.xxx% (or are the two goals the same)?

    Good luck in Shanghai later this year. 

  • Hi Rebecca, congratulations on all your amazing success and good luck for 2012.

    My question>  

    How do you stay motivated and get through all the swimming you have to do, im guessing in the region of 70K a week?

    I like many find swimming a bit of a chore, pounding out the lengths is a bit..  dare I say dull, some days.  I guess like many of us, you have days when you just have to turn off and get on with it.  Have you any tips for how you get through all your swim sessions?  do you have a focus/plan for each session, is that the key?

    All the very best for next year,  tickets permitting ill be cheering at pool side, otherwise ill be screaming at the tele image

  • Hey Rebecca.  Tis an honour to message a true Olympian!

    Question: Whats the best method to get the whiff of chlorine off my skin? Any products that work well for you? It drives me nuts!

    ps.Good luck with your 2012 training!




  • Hi Rebecca,

    How's the training going?

    Hoping to come along to support you in London 2012. Will find out very soon.

    If I wanted to improve my FC would you recommend either a swim video analysis session or to get some private lessons at the local pool?



  • Hi Rebecca,

    Hope everything is going well.

    Do you have any experience of open water swimming?  We have hundreds of swimmers taking part in the Great Swim Series for Macmillan Cancer Support this summer and there are a lot of first time nerves!  Do you have any advice or last minute preparations that you find useful before a big swim?

    Many thanks


  • Hi Rebecca,

    Congratulations on all your success and i hope much more to come.

    Whats the best product to use to get the natty chlorine out of your hair after swimming?! 

  • I have a suplimentary question>

    After the Olypmics, would you like to join a crack commando triathlon relay team as an honary pirate, we'll let you do the swim leg unless youre any good at cycling image
  • Hi Bouncing Barlist....

    Thank you for your questions!

    Yea i do roughly 70k a week. It can be very dull at times as 1-2 sessions are just about getting the metres in and having a recovery session so its all done at a steady pace.

    I think the best thing is to have people around you whether its take a friend or at the pool you're at talk to someone or find someone that has the same ability as you and swim with them!

    I definitely have a focus or key goal for each session which helps me. I think just keep it varied! Use different pieces of equipment, different strokes and distances as well. I also find that because i dont write my own sessions it helps. Im not sure if you're part of a club or not but if you arent get someone to write a session for you!

    I have to say motivation isnt really a problem for me, just love doing it to be honest. It can be boring at times but at that times i try to work on my technique the best i can!

    I hope that helps! Take care

  • Hi adidas

    A lot of people ask me about my hair. Luckily i dont bleach or die my hair alot so doesnt get ruined.

    I just make sure i use a good shampoo and i use them treatments/mask things you put on your hair once a week just to give it abit extra condition!

    Thank you

  • Thanks very much Becky, thats useful to hear your perspective.  Good idea to get someone else to write a sessions for me, I do ok when I go to masters sessions etc, its when im on my own that I struggle.  As you suggest I find it hard to set and stick to my own plans.
  • Hi gemma hardy 3

    Thank you for your questions!

    unfortunately my biggest fear is the sea so i havent done any open water. I do love watching it and going though. My best friend Keri-anne payne does them and love watching her race.

    I think the best bit of advice would be to make sure you have your suit ready and good hat and goggles so you dont have to worry about that stuff. Then just enjoy it!! They are so much fun and you get to swim in some incredible places. I love the Windermere Great Swim as its just gorgeous up there! Nerves are good though, gets the adrenaline going!

    Also... remember to look for the buoys so you swim the right course and dont go off path!!

    I hope it all goes well and they all enjoy it!!

    Thank you

  • Rebecca Adlington wrote (see)
    Hi adidas A lot of people ask me about my hair. Luckily i dont bleach or die my hair alot so doesnt get ruined. I just make sure i use a good shampoo and i use them treatments/mask things you put on your hair once a week just to give it abit extra condition! Thank you Becky
    I also heard wetting you hair before donning swim caps helps prevent the pool water getting in.  As a bloke I dont worry about such like image
  • hi Sal F

    Thank you for your post.

    Training is going very well thank you, extremely tough at the minute as i try get some hard work under my belt ready for Worlds end of July.

    To be honest it would depend on how strong of a swimmer you are. I would say if you're at a pretty high standard then the video analysis would work best and can see all parts of your stroke better. However, if you're not quite at that stage yet i would definitely say take lessons. Im sometimes swimming and think im doing something then my coach will tell me im not doing it right or whatever, its good to get someone else's advice and opinion as they can fully see what you're doing right or wrong.

    Hope you're ok

    Thank you

  • Hi Nicholas Grinyer

    Unfortunately i have to agree with you there Nick, it doesnt smell nice. I dont think i even realise i smell anymore! haha!

    I just make sure i shower and use shampoo etc then i spray deodorant and then use about half a bottle of perfume!!!! Just make sure you get one that smells nice!

    Thank you

  • hI KittenKat

    Thank you for your post and wishing me luck!

    I think its difficult to say one thing that is different or gives people the extra edge if you like. From the amazing sports people i have met i have found that there motivation, drive and dedication to be the main things. I know for me i dont mind hard work, i wont ever take the easy way out or miss a session. You give it 100% all the time.

    I also think people's attitude and professionalism is important. To keep focused no matter what and never get distracted from what you want to do or achieve. Chris Hoy is one of the most professional athletes i have ever seen or met, and i really do admire him and inspire to be like him.

    Im a true believer in that hard work will always pay off.

    Thank you for your question

    take care

  • hi ferrousferret

    Thank you for your question. I wish i could answer yours better but for me my coach does all the planning. He writes my sessions, plans my training weeks and he is in control of my targets and goals. Obviously i have my own but my coach will pick out my main weaknesses at the end of each season and the next season/cycle will be spent on improving and working on them.

    I never set target times i want to achieve when i come to race. I have major competitions i want to hit and compete at and my main goal is to try and qualify for that certain team. Once i have or havent made the team i then go from there and focus on improving on my times i did that the qualifying meets.

    I think its good to have short term and long term targets of some sort to keep you going and to keep a check on how your improving.

    Thank you

  • I have to say sorry for my spelling or grammar mistakes in all the messages!!!

    Thank you for taking the time out to ask me though.

    Thank you for the support and good luck messages, means alot to me!

    Got 20 mins left if anyone wants to ask anything else!

    Thank you x
  • Quick question then...

    I saw on your Twitter feed a photo of the ratheryummy chicken sandwich your mum made you some time back.  How many calories do you need to consume per day?  Do you try to stick to 'proper' food or do you use protein shakes/supplements

  • Hi Rebecca,

    I have a question!

    During longer sessions I often feel my technique start to slip towards the end - which makes me slower and is more tiring... It's a vicious cycle! 

    How do you maintain your focus on correct technique even when you're tired?

    Thank you for coming on the forum today - and good luck for 2012!


  • Hi Alice RW

    The most important time to concentrate on technique is when you're tired!!! If you have good technique when your tired then it will always remain good when you're swimming fast!

    I think when your tired put fins or paddles on if you have either of those. They will help you go a little bit quicker and will also mix it up a bit!

    Try doing drill as well, it doesnt have to be done fast and really does focus on technique!!

    Hope that helps!

    Thank you

  • to ferrousferret

    Oh my that sandwich my mum made was incredible!! She did very well that day! haha!

    I honestly have no idea how many calories i eat, i never keep check or count!

    I do eat large portions compared to regular people and eat quite often as well but i dont really have take aways or anything. I need to keep my energy levels up so make sure im eating the right thing and making sure im getting protein, iron and vitamins etc into my diet.

    I personally dont use protein shakes or any supplements. Some of the sprints do but i dont really need to as a distance swimmer.

    I prefer to try and keep a balanced diet!!

    Thank you

  • Rebecca

    Firstly thanks so much for taking the time to share your experience in answering these questions! Really interesting to get some expert thoughts on something that many of us seem to find quite a challenge.

    My question is about bilateral breathing - I promised myself I would try and crack it over the last winter but just never got around to it... I am so used to breathing to the right that it seems to difficult to re-learn breathing to the left.

    Have you any tips or is it just a case of slowing things down, practice and more practice?

    Good luck, and thanks again

  • Hi Becky,

    a question that gets asked on here is whether weight training can help with swimming.  I can see that an elite swimmer will try for every little edge, but would you have a view whether swimmers closer to the beginner end of the scale (where tri swimmers often are) would get benefit from weights?


  • To MustTriHarder

    Firstly, your welcome.

    Secondly, you just answered your own question! haha! Definitely a case of slowing everything down and practicing. Try putting fins on to make it easy and so you dont have to concentrate so hard and is abit easier.

    You will always find you're better at breathing to one side even when you can breathe bilateral. I do and i can do it both sides. It is important to know how though, i find it makes your stroke abit off balance and one shoulder works alot harder if you only breathe to one side.

    Just be patient and keep at it i would say!!

    Hope you can master it!

    Thank you

  • Hi Becky,

    once again may i wish you the best with coming worlds and a certain other event taking place next year! if i get all my allocation of tickets i will be there to support you!

    My question is around maintaining form when attempting to speed up - i always find when i increase cadence my stroke falls apart - are there any drills / meathods that help maintaining form when swimming faster?


  • Becky,

    do you do drills each day?  Which are 3/4 most important drills would you recommend to us non-elites ?

    Stretches - I stretch after running and cycling but usually seen to forget after swimming.
    Can you recommend a couple of post swim stretches if you think they are important?


  • hi bos1

    I am not too sure on the answer to your question. Im a distance swimmer and dont do any weights training. I do 4 gym sessions but none of them are weights. For me i dont need to carry extra muscle through the water and dont want my lactate levels getting high.

    Mostly all sprinters do weight training though and massively helps them!

    As a beginner i wouldnt really see it helping a huge amount. I would say general gym...cardio, core and strengthening would help.

    Depends what your body shape is really and the distance you're swimming!!

    Thank you

  • Mr Zuvai

    It is difficult to keep your form and technique going as you increase the speed. I sometimes count my strokes and try and keep my stroke length long. For me the longer my stroke the better so as i increase my speed i try and maintain my stroke count or at least near it.

    Otherwise, i would just say practise. As you get better and faster in the pool it will become abit easier. Just really focus on technique rather than speed and just get to the point where you can maintain your form and within a few weeks/months you will be able to increase the speed and go faster and still maintain form!

    Thank you
  • bos1

    Yea i do drills everyday.

    I do.... finger drag drill so run your fingers along the water surface when your arm is that the 90 degree angle on front crawl.

    I do straight arm drill to loosen my arms off.

    I do a 'fist' drill so making my hand into a fist like im punching the water which helps me notice how important my hand catch is in my stroke.

    As for stretching. I would really recommend you stretch your arms/shoulders out the most. So stretch your pecs and lats out. I have good range of flexibility in my arms but my hamstrings are shocking!! Need to stretch more!!

    Thank you

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